How Can We Create The Illusion of Scarcity of Our Jobs?

Tim Sackett Employment Branding and Culture, Recruiting, Talent Acquisition

Do you want to know what the perfect job in Talent Acquisition is? It’s working for the brand or organization where everyone, or seemingly everyone, wants to work! Duh! Right?

But, no, think about this for a second. The reality is scarcity causes demand. Why do certain sneakers from Adidas and Nike sell out in seconds? Because the demand is way higher than the supply these companies will create. Adidas launches the next line of Kanye West’s new “Yeezys” and they sell out immediately and are also immediately listed on third-party sites going for double the original cost.

Ivy League colleges do this with admissions. They create scarcity with their applicant pool—only accept a few, and thousands apply. Of course, the key to all of this is value! Highly valued things tend to be scarce.

Then how do you create real value in your jobs?

That’s the million-dollar question! The reality is that probably 90% of organizations we represent offer average pay, average benefits, average development opportunity, working for average leaders, in an average work environment—meaning we really offer no extraordinary value. You can only create scarcity through extraordinary value.

What are some ways we could offer extraordinary value?

  • Be the market pay leader by an amount most people could not turn down. You can’t offer fifty cents more an hour and think you’re really offering extraordinary value. What if you offered $5/hr more than those competing for the same talent around you? Yes, you might go broke. But you also might be able to attract the very best talent in your market and have zero turnover and world-class productivity—all of which has a lot of value!
  • Offer something no one else in your market is offering, and it has to be something that isn’t easily copied. Things like ownership and profit sharing at a level where they truly feel like owners; some kind of crazy tenure incentives that build up the longer someone stays. Maybe a newer form of a modern-day pension. At ten years, you don’t get a watch, we buy you a new Cadillac! At twenty years, we put $100K into an IRA for your retirement. Think that’s too much? That’s $5K per year of service. How much does it cost you to replace a worker when they leave?
  • Create a connection that is hard to break. After X period of time, we allow each employee to hire anyone of their choosing to come work with us. Don’t know how you would ever manage that? Yeah, I don’t either, that’s why it is extraordinary!
  • Have the best trained, most professional, visionary leaders on the planet. Men and women who don’t just develop their teams and employees but are required to ensure they develop their people so well that every other company in the world would kill to have your employees!

The reality is you want to be the one employer in your market where everyone wants to work. The company that people would wait in line in a snowstorm just to apply if they thought there was a chance they would get the “privilege” to work at your company. We want there to be an illusion of scarcity in our jobs—that it’s really hard to get a job there, but it’s so worth it when you do.

You are having trouble hiring right now because your jobs are not scarce. They are plentiful. In fact, any moron dumb enough to show up every day seems like an above-average worker at your company.

I tell people all the time who are having trouble hiring to eliminate all friction in the application and hiring process. This will help you hire faster, and in a competitive environment, that will actually help 100% of the time. But those actions will also perpetuate the fact that your jobs are not scarce and are easy to get.

Wait a minute, but you just said . . .

Look, there’s more than one way to hire. If you make it easier and faster for applicants to get hired, you will help yourself to hire more. But you also give away some quality. Maybe a lot of quality. But for many organizations that are desperate for people, quality is a relative term.

Very, very, very few organizations can reach the holy grail of this illusion of scarcity. Don’t you think every single shoe company in the world wants to launch their shoes and have them sold out in seconds? YES! Yes, they do, and they try, but this stuff is hard!

I always think this is an executive initiative. The idea might be planted by a CHRO or Head of TA, but you need 100%, all-in executive buy-in when trying to go down this road. A great leadership team discussion to have is asking this one question:

What company, other than this one, would you go to work for and why?

This will lead to the extraordinary discussions you want to have. I would want to go to Company X because . . . Most of us can’t create a famous brand, but you can still be extraordinary in the market you are in!